The Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) will launch a pilot project this fall aimed at encouraging corn and soybean farmers to add cereals and legumes back into Ontario crop rotations.
The Small Grains Program, funded through a grant from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, will pay farmers $40/acre if they plant fall or spring cereals and use a legume-based cover crop after the crop is harvested. As part of the project, participants will also be included in a mentorship network, and have access to ongoing support and education through the EFAO.
Maureen Balsillie, field crop coordinator with EFAO, says that farmers who have not grown a small cereal in five years are eligible to apply to the program. Each farmer can qualify for up to 100 acres of support, and those 100 acres can be across several grain types and fields.
The project is modelled after a similar project created by the Practical Farmers of Iowa.
Balsillie says they are aiming for 400 acres in year one (2020/2021), and plan to expand that to 1,000 acres for year two of the program.
Farmers do not have to be a member of EFAO to apply, but will have to become a member to be part of the pilot project. Balsillie says that farmers will choose what crop and what cover crop to grow, and that there are no added restrictions to production.
EFAO says the goal is to create stakeholder partnerships to continue the project past the two-year pilot.
The full amount of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation grant was not disclosed
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